Commentators of this passage recommend that we think of it as though it was spoken by Jesus while he was on the cross. These words are Jesus’ words of saying “Good Bye” to his disciples. These words are momentous. There are like Churchill’s famous words to the British Parliament. It is his “blood, sweat and tears” talk. It is Garibaldi’s to his troops “All I can offer you is hunger, death, and Freedom for Italy.”
To say “Goodbye” is always difficult. There are small “goodbyes” such as sending a child off for the first day of school. There are the “Good Byes” when the child goes away to college. It can be for parents like a death in the family. Every time you pass by an empty bedroom door the anguish of separation is deep. Sometimes the only consolation one might have is to think of Mary who after thirty years she also had to let Him go. Another Good-Bye. Hopefully, parents and child had opportunities to talk together before the leaving.
Maybe the only thing a father can say to his son or daughter is “Good Bye and grow up.” But behind these terse words are years of sharing love, laughter, and joy. Both know the depth of each’s love for the other. It is memorable.
Jesus’ awareness of the Father’s love for Him and Jesus’ love for the disciples is very obvious. And the test of the disciples love for Jesus’ is proven by their love for the Community. Jesus tells them that their love for each other is the only way they can participate in the joy that is shared by Jesus and the Father. Jesus asks the Father not to take the disciple out of the world but remain with them and guard them and consecrate them in the Truth. The infallible sign of God in our midst is the joy and peace that comes from Jesus. Just as Jesus perseveres in His love. We too must persevere in love since we have been consecrated in His love. We have been consecrated for service to the world.
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community at Sacred Heart Monastery in Louisville, Kentucky.